What's Love Got to do with it?

What if we've missed the point? What if Love Wins is enough? And why Rob Bell may just be right.

Right On our doorstep

Think that slavery is a thing of the past? Think that the UK is too civilised to be part of trafficking? Think again

5 reasons why being married to Brit is great (or 5 reasons to marry an American)

5 things you will never know until you marry an American

Masturbation Month

Giving up masturbation for a month. Why we need to save the kittens.

XXXchurch! Whaaa?

Why I love porn (ministries).

23 Oct 2011

For The Freaks

 One of the questions I ask myself before I write anything is ‘what will other people think of this?’ ‘Will they like it?’ ‘Will they think it is stupid?’ ‘Will I come across in a bad light?’


These are all the wrong questions to ask.


These won’t help me be honest and they certainly won’t help me become a better writer.

Should anyone?


During the last few weeks when I was in counseling a lot of things came up that I realized were affecting the way I lived. An incident from my childhood was triggered in my memory that I am still peeling away the layers of.


To cut a long story short, I discovered that this memory had affected me in so many ways but mainly it had helped me create a filter for most of my life where I was scared of what people would think of me.


This is apparent in the way I am sometimes afraid of giving my opinion. It’s obvious in how I don’t stand up for something that is wrong in case the person who has committed the wrong thinks poorly of me. It’s clear in how I won’t initiate conversations because I think people would rather not talk to me.


One of the breakthroughs for me in this has been realizing that I can’t control what people think. I can’t determine their response to me. And slowly I am starting to believe it doesn’t matter.


It doesn’t matter what they think because they are flawed like me. I have believe the lie that I don’t have worth compared to other people. But that is wrong and if I have as much worth as anyone then I am entitled to be part of things. I am entitled to be included.


Which all begs another question.


Where do we find our worth?


For years I thought I got it from Jesus. 


But I didn’t. 


I got it from being a Christian. This if you know some Christians, probably isn’t a great way of gaining self worth. 


But one of the things that following Jesus is supposed to elicit in our lives is openness to forgiveness. A freedom to be real with God and others. I’m scared to be myself because I have possibly not truly grasped that His love for me is enough. I’m afraid because I don’t really believe that His sacrifice for me is sufficient for me to show who I really am and for during those times when I screw up (which I will), it be alright. 


I have put my faith in myself. In other people.


And where has that got me? Where has that got any of us?


When I put my faith in making sure I look good to others I will naturally fall short because they are imperfect too.


Being a follower of Jesus means having the freedom to live. That’s what he really came for. So we can truly live now. If I don’t do that then I don’t really understand that when Jesus died he died so I could be free from the fear of screwing up. He died so that I could really understand how genuine freedom is in not being afraid of being a freak or wrong or looking stupid.


But that real freedom is knowing we are a freak and wrong and sometimes look stupid….and that, that is good. Because our trust is in something much better.


You and I were created in God’s image. Not someone else’s or the false one we have come to believe about ourselves. 


Join me in starting to believe that today. 


Join me in being a freak.






21 Oct 2011

Showing Up

I have been staring at a blank page for a couple of hours now trying to muster up some words, any words, they don't even have to be that coherent.

But alas I have failed in my task. My masterpiece has alluded me today. My Pulitzer winning piece did not materialise.

But... I DID show up. I came prepared to do the work.

And tomorrow morning I will show up again. And maybe no words will appear again. But I have to believe they will.

But even if not, I will show up the next day, and then the next, and then the next....

So show up today. Then tomorrow.

Be prepared to work for your art.

But don't worry if you fail.

It will come.

As long as you show keep showing up....

Your art will show up.

20 Oct 2011

PISSED OFF!

I read some advice at the weekend about not writing while you are angry.


This doesn’t sound like good advice to me. If one doesn’t write while they are angry should we resist from writing when we are sad, depressed, melancholic or joyous? It seems to me the best art comes from a myriad of emotions.


I haven’t written on my blog for a long while. Very sporadically actually but recently when I have sat down to write I seem to be always drawn back to creativity or thoughts on why we sit and muster up images, words or semitones in our head and I have come to the simple conclusion on why millions of us do this on a daily basis.


Because you need to.


You don’t really have a choice.


You need to create new things. You need to continue to explore the endless possibilities that art holds. 


You wake up and if you don’t sing at some point during the day you feel like you will explode.


Or if you don’t write you will continue to suppress the thoughts that could change the world.


Not creating is killing you.


When you feel like that, you are creative and you should do something about it. Namely create.


That’s why some bands struggle with the difficult second album syndrome. They have created something successful the first time around and so they try to recreate it. While they should really be focusing on creating something new and fresh. They aren’t really creating at all.


That’s why some pastors leave their churches to make tv shows in Hollywood. It’s not that they don’t care about or regret their previous existence. They just need to explore the side that, and let’s not forget this, God handed them.


And that’s why I sit here slightly pissed off at myself. Pissed off that I haven’t been doing that. Not moving to Hollywood. 


But creating. 


If being pissed off means that I, and all of us, let go and come out with our voice and our song and change the world and help someone, then I say better to be angry and create than happy and not follow who you are. 


Because ultimately, even if it is painful, creating will satisfy you.


Isn’t that something we should get angry about?




3 Sep 2011

What I have learned about being creative (without actually being creative)

This can be a scary place if you are creative.























Hey....I'm down here.

That's better! Yeah one of the scariest places you can be when you are creative is that blank canvas. Even before you have an idea. Even before you know what you are going to write, paint, speak about, discover. It can be truly terrifying.

But it's not the scariest. The scariest is that after a while you have this.



















Still here.

A clean blank sheet with no marks or words or pictures. Not because you can't come up with them. But because you haven't even tried.

No one said it would be easy. It's not supposed to be. So stop trying to make it easy and live with it being awkward, hard, confusing, frustrating.

Because only then can it be liberating.

And only then can it be good.

11 Jun 2011

Why I like being punched in the face (or just writing that to get your attention)

Writing is easy when you know what to write about. It’s not as easy when you don’t. A bit like now. Well actually exactly like now.

I read a post by the very funny Tripp Crosby, one half of the twice as funny duo Tripp and Tyler that made me laugh. They are twice as funny as each of them on their own since there is two of them and two is better than one. Unless of course you are talking about punches in the face. I think usually one punch in the face is better than two.

I know that one isn’t ideal but it’s better than say seven. Seven punches would be annoying.

Anyway back to the point. He decided to write a post totally without planning and by just writing and so this whole post is and has been an attempt at just that. It’s good advice I think to just write when you can’t think of anything to write. I mean writing something is better than writing nothing right? (You see if I had planned this post I would have included a lot less various forms of right/write in that last sentence but I didn’t so get over it)

Or maybe not. Maybe as you read this you are thinking what the heck is he talking about?! Maybe you are wishing I indeed did write nothing. If so I’m sorry for wasting your time. I will try to be better prepared and have a topic ready to go. My bad. Actually I'm not sorry. I am sorry for just lying to you though.

If you like this post then, well actually I think you are a little weird because it’s pretty rubbish.(Great I just alienated all my readers. Sorry Mum). But I gave it a go. Maybe it didn’t go to plan or maybe it went better. Maybe I just taught myself something about going for things even if they don’t work out the way you wanted.

Now I bet you are thinking that I wrote all that rubbish/genius stuff before about getting punched in the face just so I could come up with an amazing conclusion and a great life lesson about just going for it. But I didn’t.

Maybe I am just a genius. Or maybe not. Probably not actually.

Oh well.

You probably want to punch me in the face now.

1 Jun 2011

Knowing God, knowing you. Aha! (Why God needs our love)

Sometimes when talking about Jesus, the Bible and Christianity we use words that sometimes seem to feel natural but when we look closely are kind of awkward. Take ‘having a personal relationship with Jesus’ for example. We tell people that they need to have a personal relationship with the Lord but we aren’t told that any where in the Bible. So why do we use phrases like this? Where did it come from? Who invented it? And if it’s not Biblical should we come up with different phrases or should we be coming up with phrases at all?

But even if having a personal relationship with Jesus was written in the Bible maybe we should think more about what that means.

I can go long periods of not spending any time reading the Bible. I hear someone read from it and explain what it means every week in Church but I don’t sit down and take the time to read it for myself. I don’t go home after Church and then re read it again. Why don’t I? Does it even matter if I don’t? The Bible doesn’t tell us to have a quiet time every day.

The same for prayer. I don’t pray nearly as much as I should. And when I say that, I only say it to sound like I still pray at least a little. But I’m tricking you because really I don’t pray much at all. Every now and again. When I feel like it. Which is once every blue moon. And really how often do you see a blue moon?

So the main reason I don’t like using the phrase ‘having a personal relationship with Jesus’ is not because it may not be exactly written in the Bible but because I don’t want to have to put the effort in.

Why should I? I mean God is God after all. I am a person and therefore am going to be a huge mess up sometimes so shouldn’t God the perfect all knowing being be the one who pursues me all the time. Shouldn’t he know that I might just not want to do ‘Christian’, heck even just the right things all the time.

Or should I make the effort since he went to such great lengths to love me by coming to Earth and sacrificing himself for me? Should I be more grateful and show that by praying and reading my Bible more. Serving others more. Is that what having a personal relationship with God means? Me making the effort.

Which is it?

Yes.

What?

Yes.

It’s both?

Yeah, what if it is both? What if God’s grace is so amazing that he doesn’t need my love but still be so human that he does?

The best relationships you will have with other people are the ones where there is give and take. Which most of the time I am fine with if I’m just taking. When it comes to giving I’m a little reluctant. When it comes to God I am even more reluctant. I don’t want to give my time to God. I tell myself that if I read my Bible all the time I will become really fundamental. If I pray I will lose touch with reality and I will look weird. I’m afraid of what will happen to me if I give to you.

But what if by not doing those things I am missing out?

What if God actually does need me to do those things?  What if when God pours his love out on us and we don’t return it, it’s not just me that loses out but also God? When we think of God we don’t tend to think of Him needing our love. But God became human. He became like us and I think he feels like us.

I don’t think He needs our love.

And yet I definitely do think He does.

Yes.

We usually have a hard time thinking of the trinity but if nothing else I think the trinity shows that even God needs others. Even God can’t survive without others. Even He isn’t really complete unless there are others in the equation.

And I like that idea of God. I like that idea because it means that when I need him I’m not just praying to a God that is distant. I’m not just bothering a God who doesn’t need anyone else and certainly doesn’t need me getting in his face about whether I should apply for a new job or move country or give more money away.

It’s hard for me to not think of another phrase other than having a relationship with God. So maybe it’s alright to think of it in those terms. Because relationships don’t work unless both people are in.

Why should that be any different with God?

Should I be surprised when I feel that God is far away when I am not spending time trying to get to know him. All of us just want to be known. Maybe the reason we do is because we are made in His image.

So does that mean God wants to be known?

Does it mean he needs to be known?

What do you think? Does that make God small or weak? Does it make God more approachable?  Is it about being disciplined? What works for you?

28 May 2011

Wishing the Rapture Would Have Raptured the Rapture.

I for one am glad the rapture didn't happen last weekend. I have only got to mid way through Boy Meets World with Brittany and would have been pissed if I hadn't at least seen Corey and Topanga get married. Thankfully it looks like I will get there. As long as I do so before October 21st.

Heaven and Hell and the end of the world and Rapture are all words that have been branded about at one point or the other in the last couple of months or so.

For better or worse, there is an ongoing conversation right now all about the end of the world and what the next world will look like.

Of course this isn’t something new. People have been predicting the end of the world for what seems forever. People have been talking about who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ of Heaven and Hell for a long time. The conversation comes around and it will disappear (unlike the way we were supposed to during the rapture) and it will inevitably come around again. Perhaps though, the reason it has been so in the limelight is because it is the first time it has really come to our attention in the age of the internet.

For whatever reason though it has been exhausting. It has been tiring to think so much about Heaven and Hell and to think about the world ending. I am tired of hearing about it and I am tired of reading about it. And I think there is a reason why.

I think it is quite telling that when Jesus spoke he rarely mentioned Hell. It wasn’t something that he spent a great deal of time trying to explain. What he did spend a great deal of time doing was talking about Love. Talking about how to love each other better. How to treat others. He didn’t really deal with doctrine. He was interested in relationships and He was interested in healing. Feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

And maybe that is why I am so tired of talking about Hell and when the world will end. Maybe it is because it is a distraction from what we really should be doing.

Does Hell exist? I don’t know. Will everyone be saved? I don’t know. Apparantly it has been our job recently to decide those things. Thankfully it's not.

Of course there will be some who say that we are dealing with real people and that we need to warn them about Hell and we need to warn them that they need saved.

But truthfully I don’t want to be scared into following Jesus. I want to follow Him because he loves me. I want to love people so they don’t go to Hell, right now.

None of us can be certain of what Heaven and Hell will be like. We just can’t. If the Bible was so clear on it we wouldn’t still be debating it.

But the Bible is clear on how to treat each other. Jesus was very clear about that.

If we preached more about a God that loves us so much that he is continuously pursuing us and is constantly longing for us and not waiting to punish us for all eternity, maybe we would be less interested in proving our point and more in following Jesus.

In the story of the Prodigal Son the father was always waiting for his son to return. Every day he was keeping an eye out for him. And when he did return he ran after him.

That’s Love. That’s a God who doesn’t give up on us because we are worth it. Not a God who is just dying to end the world so He can punish us.

The world was supposed to end last weekend. When you make a statement that world is going to end you are really saying that God has had enough and His patience has ran out.

Well we are still here and I don’t think His patience has ran out. If that is a sign of anything I think it is a sign that God still cares and isn't ready to give up. I think we should forget about proving what we think about Heaven and Hell is correct and focus on the one thing we do know. That we are to love each other and share Jesus love with people.

Are you ready for Jesus return? Maybe that’s the wrong question.

Maybe we should be asking,

Is God ready to return?

18 May 2011

Why Jim Wallis is right (and wrong) and why gay is the new love wins

I had expected it to be at least a while before us Christians started causing controversy again, after the Rob Bell/ Love Wins debate took over our lives in March. But now that we have become bored with that it seems we have now found someone else to vilify.

In this case it is Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, who has created a storm by refusing to include an advertisement on their website from Believe Out Loud, encouraging Churches to be open to Gay and Lesbian people.

This has caused quite a stir to many who don’t understand how an organisation like Sojourners can not include an ad that promotes inclusiveness in Church, while the board of Sojourners are afraid it will distract from other issues in which they are focused on.

But who is right?

And who is wrong?

Or are both sides equally right and wrong?

From the point of view of Sojourners they are probably in their right to refuse to show the ad. Sojourners has never really been about these types of issues. These discussions aren’t ones I would have expected to find on their website and so I’m not really sure why some people are so upset. Would it be odd if a charity promoting the safety and care of animals refused to show the advert? Not really. So should Sojourners be any different?

Saying that, would it have really hurt them to show the advert? Even if this issue isn’t one that they directly are working on, it is hard to not see how it would fit in, in a general sense with the organisations ethos. Despite what people may think, Jim Wallis can be conservative on certain issues and in the past he has shown this to be the case regarding Gay and Lesbian discussions in the Church.  So we shouldn’t be that surprised that they made their decision. But this isn’t really a discussion about whether it is right or wrong to be gay. It is about whether people who are, should we made to feel welcome and loved in the Church.

I think it was a mistake however not to show the advert. I think the advert was very moving and I wish that more Church leaders would act like the Pastor at the end of the ad. Sadly I don’t think this is generally true of reality. I think no matter what you believe about being homosexual, God’s love is for everyone. This is the message I feel the ad was promoting and it is one that Christians everywhere should exhibit.

Which also as it happens includes the ones criticising Jim Wallis. Some of the comments have been very negative and harsh and when Christians who support a campaign that is trying to encourage inclusiveness and then fail to offer the same to someone whom they disagree with, it’s kind of hypocritical.

But then again this has always been our problem. Our problem is having civil discussion with each other. A discussion where we can strongly disagree with someone but not end up hating them.

It would be a shame if some of Sojourners detractors would stop supporting the great work that they are doing just because of their stance on one issue.

Just as it is for Sojourners not to show an ad that is refreshing and showing a sign of Church that we should all be aiming for.

So what is the solution? What has been your experience with this issue in your Church? Do you think we are afraid of something deeper? What are your thoughts on opening church to everyone?

Heaven a hard time with the afterlife?

In March Rob Bell released a book called Love Wins.

The controversy around the book was, well let’s just say a little heated. In the book, we were told, Rob Bell claimed he didn’t believe in Hell (he does). We were also told that he claimed that everyone will be saved (he didn’t quite). We were also told that he had lost it and that it was time that we finally cut him loose. (Thankfully we didn’t).

Everyone was reporting on it. Bloggers wrote post after post about it. (My hand is up here) Famous Christian Pastors tweeted their opinions. Every news channel in the US ran the story at one point or the other. It was even trending on Twitter.

Even I as a big fan of Rob Bell was sick of the sight of him.

A Pastor wrote a book that suggested that maybe God didn’t want to punish us but wanted the entire world to feel his love and embrace it; a book that encouraged us to live life so that we didn’t create Hell for ourselves and others, right now, here, on Earth. A book that gave us hope that God’s love isn’t exhaustive.

And when he did, some people tore him apart. Some Christians tore him apart.

So it can come as no surprise then that when Stephen Hawking came out and declared that there was no Heaven, there were those who came down on him even heavier.

Except… they didn’t.

The Christian blogs are surprisingly quiet on the matter. Apart from a few voices giving their opinion there is not much being said. Which is odd considering Stephen Hawking is denying, that the one thing that all Christians can agree on, isn’t real.

You may not agree with his perspective but at least Rob Bell is hopeful. Hopeful for restoration, for a future where pain of every kind is gone. Stephen Hawking shuts that possibility down when he says there is no Heaven.

Or does he?

What if he has a point? What if he has a point and he doesn’t even realise it?

What if the idea that most of us have of Heaven is wrong? Does the Heaven that many of us believe in, even exist?

In the same interview with the Guardian that Stephen Hawking denied the existence of an afterlife he also stressed the importance of fulfilling our potential on Earth, by making the most of our lives. Which seems to me to be a huge challenge if there is no Heaven. If there is no God, if there is no hope that someday everything will be restored the way God intended, then what is the point?

But how as Christians should we approach the future? How should we view Heaven and how should we approach how we live?

If we see Heaven as a place like Stephen Hawking imagines that we imagine it (I hope you followed that); I don’t know what exactly we have to live for. Is it just so we can evangelise to other people? Does the view of Heaven where we go somewhere else for eternity allow us to live in this life for something more than just ‘winning souls?’ Does that view of Heaven force us, subconsciously to not care about justice or the poor or the weak? Does it leave anything for our physical and emotional wellbeing here and now, rather than just our souls, there and then?

Or is Heaven more? Is eternity not just a place where we go but a place which comes and meets us? A place that comes and meets us, yes sometime in the future but just as importantly today and tomorrow. Is it when God’s perfect Heaven finally comes down and interconnects with our imperfect world; restoring it, not so the things that matter on Earth become obsolete, but become real and full of new life.

If that is the Heaven we live for then that changes everything. It starts now and is fulfilled when Christ rejoins us on Earth.

It means that our job is to bring that about from now in our words, our actions, in how we care for the poor, in how we fight for the people who are being trafficked, in how we help our friend be restored through their addictions, in how we meet and worship together, how we pray and how we love.

What do you think about what Heaven is like? And how does that impact what you think is important for Christians to work for?

What if the whole time that we are waiting for Heaven, Heaven is actually so close we can touch it?

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